lamberts_bigBritish Prime Minister David Cameron’s much anticipated “Europe speech” was cancelled today in the wake of the hostage crisis in Algeria. However, substantial extracts of his speech were pre-briefed to journalists, who have been struggling with the conditional tense in order to report on an event that didn’t actually happen.

The Prime Minister was to have said:

There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

Much has been made of the need for ‘solidarity’ in this crisis, yet the politics of austerity and repeated ‘bail-outs’ (or, more accurately, emergency loans from creditor countries to those facing default) have been stretching pan-European sentiment to its limits. On Debating Europe, for example, we recently had a comment sent in from Marc from the Netherlands, who said: “We do not want to pay for Spanish and Italian and French banks. Nor do we want even a dime of our money to transfer out to Club Med countries.

We took this comment to Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts to see how he would respond:

Ultimately, could this perceived lack of solidarity between European countries be down to the fact that there is no true sense of a European identity? We had a comment from Alex who wondered:

How could we expect to create a single European superpower after only 50 years, while the countries that compose it have been at odds [for] most of their history?

Is a process that should gradually evolve over hundreds of years being forced through in a matter of decades?

Finally, we had a comment from Juan, who argued that, rather than seeking to create a feeling of pan-European solidarity, government should in fact be taking place at a smaller, more local level:

One thing you should pay attention to is that there is no European sentiment. In the United States everybody says, ‘I’m an American’. They don’t say, ‘I’m a Texan’, ‘I’m a Californian’, etc. In Europe we identify with our nationality… Communities need to be smaller so that they can be managed and run more efficiently.

What do YOU think? Do Northern Europeans feel solidarity with countries in the South? Do Southern Europeans resent the North for the policies of austerity? Is such solidarity even possible, or does it take hundreds of years to develop? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.



57 comments Post a commentcomment


    • avatar
      James

      So, looking at your profile, you support UKIP. Don’t you think it is a tad hypocritical supporting [and showing solidarity] for a party that actually has representation in the European Parliament?

    • avatar
      IgnoRantJack

      A party of loons and closet racists. Another reason why we need to promote greater participation in European elections, low turn outs let the weirdos in. We need real pan-European political parties and not just the odd alliances we have now.

  1. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    Today European citizens are confused. There is so much speculation around and sometimes misleading information that makes it impossible for someone to have a clear picture of what is really happening in the European Union right now. I think that once this hazy picture goes ( I don’t think is going to take long time) then there will be different point of view as far as Northern and Southern Europeans solidarity is concerned.

  2. avatar
    Leta Nico

    The problem is that the ongoing discussion about the so called division “between Southern and Northen EU countries” is about to turn into a clear sign of a de facto division itself. No one can seriously expect constant bashing to remain unanswered | cc Marilena Koppa : “If we are not talking about a lost generation, we must address the question of whether social cohesion, that is the money spent to create equal opportunity, constitutes a fiscal burden or an investment. Is inequality ?competitive? and, thereby, necessary?” #thesouthintalk http://thesouthintalk.blogspot.gr/

    • avatar
      g. maltezos

      amen! why do we seperate nations, since we started all as one? these people deserve higher living standards but those people lower standards? all people work and many have skills no matter there origin, in any country.. if there is somewhere a problem so lets fix it all together, lets not struggle the half people to live like lower beings. whats that europe about?regardless nation all should have had Equal rights equal opportunities equal salaries depending on the skills of a person and not its nation. For me Europe is about solving problems all together and also share the benefits all together , either is this way or why we even bother say the name for..

  3. avatar
    George Vakos

    Rich EU member states intent thru austerity to betyer manipulate the South in their banking system, natural resources, fiscal and even foreign politics

  4. avatar
    Fidalgo Xana

    Those in the south (me!) have been manipulated by their own system to believe they were rich. Now we are paying the price. The EU did nothing to change what was happening. There is lack of vision and solidarity in Europe. There are no great leaders. We are decadent!

  5. avatar
    Massimo Santambrogio

    We made our monstrous debt and we have to pay it, cannot ask to other to do that. But of course we can ask that other rich EU countries will not increase their richness taking advantage of our weakness.

  6. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    How can we build a united Europe if half of the European population believes their media and governments that tell them that they gain nothing from EU membership or they pay too much or that their taxes just go to support for ever the lazy corrupt and overspending cousins… While the other half believe that the EU and the European project is all about receiving money and becoming richer…??? Somebody said it.. We have no leadership to inspire something positive about Europe…

  7. avatar
    Fidalgo Xana

    Interesting…I only see comments from southerners….Maybe we are the only ones interested in this issue (You do not care until you feel it yourself!)

  8. avatar
    James Taylor

    I’ve got no problem with showing solidarity with indebted countries, but I do prefer it when people pay for their mistakes. The EU and accession countries were both, at the very least, wilfully ignorant so saying it’s either the ‘lazy Greeks’ or the ‘evil EU’ who are to blame isn’t true. However, the speed and ferocity of austerity is unnecessarily savage and we should be trying to find ways of reducing the burden and not force the kind of cuts we wouldn’t countenance in our own countries.

  9. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A Europa vencerá o teste como venceu outras maiores crises europeias e irá nascer uma maior integração económica finaceira e orçamental dentro da UE e só assim nascerá uma económia moderna e de riquesa de nações Europeias

  10. avatar
    Edwin Hoogerbrugge

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

  11. avatar
    Gary S X Avoch

    Although I’m from America, but I can see that Northern European nations are much more responsible with their banking systems and whatnot.

  12. avatar
    Carlo De Michele

    Europe is a place of solidarity without resentment for mid or upper class cultured people, speaking more than one language, and is a magic journey and working opportunity. The situation reverses (resentment without solidarity) for low class foreign workers and when overall national egoistic interests are considered.
    Therefore, in my opinion, the answer depends mainly on the actors you take into account.
    But the question is misleading because it cuts Europe geographically, while social class and education are more significant. And is even more misleading because it suggests a “financial” division between countries.
    Europe is not euro. Euro is the cancer that will disrupt Europe, because it is not simply a common currency but an enforced governance method. Solidarity is possible only by choice, in freedom, cutting the currency chains. Enforced solidarity rises necessarily resentment.

  13. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Northern Solidarity is about their banks lending money at 4-5% and stopping Southern countries to borrow directly from ECB at 1%. That’s why they don’t like to hear about Eurobonds. If EU won’t finish before, it will take more than one generation and crossed marriages for Europeans to feel like Europeans.

  14. avatar
    Nuno AG Graça

    Personally, I think solidarity comes only when countries act responsibly. Debt is meant to be payed in due time, and when too much debt is generated, it comes that the lender won’t show mercy. But let’s see now: how was it possible for Europe to develop itself as a whole economic area, when some countries’ economic potential was completely destroyed in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s while others kept developing their economy? Who wanted it to be this way? And now who is to pay for those facts? How is a country supposed to pay debt by borrowing money from others?That will take up too much time and too many generations (mine for that matter, as my children’s if I ever have any).

    I think that if the European Union is to survive, solidarity has to be a must and those countries which were overwhelmed by the stupidity (the correct tecnical term for this case) of our previous rulers and leaders need more support from their mates at the Union. There is still too much conflict of interest that will be hard to get rid of. Hence solidarity today is at low levels as I feel it.

  15. avatar
    Ignacio C. Furfaro

    Quoting a previous comment: “Northern European nations are much more responsible with their banking systems and whatnot”…such as for instance Iceland (See Icelandinc crisis of 2008->)? Or Ireland (bailed out by EU)? Or Belgium (public debt over 100% of GDP)? Or maybe the UK (where banks have been almost nationalized to avoid bankrupcy)? No, I don’t thinks so. Besides, what’s the measure to separate “rich” from “poor”? Is it GDP? Is it minimum wage? Is it life quality? Needless to remind you all that the second (France) and third (Italy) largest economies in the Eurozone belong to the so-called South.

    • avatar
      danielmclion

      Exactly! The Dutch who were screaming : no more taxpayers money to Greece, were saving with IceSafe (Icelandic) that promised double interest compared to Dutch banks. The Dutch banks (and German andq Frensh) were buying Greek bonds ans securities with astronomic up to 20 % interest. So who is to blame for what? Everything was great as long as the sky was the limit. :

  16. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Not really. The first part. And , it’s not even that (on the 2nd following retorting that as well). Austerity shld not be paid by anyone. I have said, for a long time, dnt pay it w the ppl. W/ being the key there.
    It’s the govts who are overspending, govt spending is diff from consumer such. you stifle the latter ..and there is no hope of econ growth.

    The same holds true w those who love a consumption tax. (we already have one, the VAT/ TVA ;p ) i am a centrist so, my pref leans towards a flat tax.

  17. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    As you know anything does not be absent in Universe, including the money, even if the money borrows. We must separate between the debted Countries and the debted people firstly. Some people of the debted Countries became much richer as aftermath of the crisis. After 21th of February 2001 Turkey experienced that the State had been bankruptcied but at the same time we had been created the new fifty billionaire businessmen and we know what some of them are thieves. The debted Contries head for the them secondly. As the last they should judge the lenders too like we had been judged as aftermath 13rd of January 1994.

  18. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    Firstly we have to define “solidarity”.

    It seems almost all comments refer to financial issues an national net givers an net receivers when it comes to who puts what in the trough an who takes what out. That argument is OK as far as it goes – but surely there is more to the EU idea than finance.

    This year is the “EU year of the citizen” or some such nonsense dreamed up by somebody within the Brussels Bubble as a way of somehow “reaching out” to the masses within the EU geographical area in an effort to make the EU more relevant to them in ways, one presumes, that are not only about financial obligations or gifts.

    As yet, I have not seen or read much of note relating to this “year of the EU citizen” over and above its launch – at which I suspect there were very few “average” EU citizens. Bureaucrats, technocrats, media, politicians and lobbyists were no doubt present, but they all exist within the bubble rather than without.

    However, the very fact that there is such an obvious disconnect between the Brussels Bubble and the EU citizenry, to the point where such nonsense as a “year of the citizen” is necessary at all, must mean that those within the bubble are becoming aware that their legitimacy with the a reasonably significant section of the public is rapidly eroding – and it is about time such a realisation occurred.

    Unfortunately there seems to be very little solidarity amongst member states over a very wide range of issues, and all too often when consensus is reached, it is at the very lowest common denominator acceptable to all that is the outcome – rather than what is probably necessary even if it makes significant waves.

    You have to suspect that one issue the European citizenry would agree upon and show significant solidarity over, be they living in the North or the South, net giver or net receiver, democratic beacon or human rights slacker – whatever – is that the EU can and should be doing far better than it is over an immense amount of policy areas.

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      Nikolai Holmov,

      A wise commentary!

      I agree, although my previous commentary was related mostly with the financial and economic crisis. I made that comment thinking more of the European Monetary Union, regarding the actual economic crisis, because money and economy is related to everything we do, just like law.

      As far as what European Union politics go, I feel as if each of the most dominant economies (or countries if you will) have their own secret agenda, as if everyone was mostly looking out for themselves and not for the EU as a whole. Laws are not the same everywhere, the language is not the same either (which is crucial for equal opportunities in the EU! There’s something that makes us very different from the USA!), the member’s economic status is not the same, development can’t be made at the same rate everywhere, the work market and opportunities in each country is diferent, etc…

      There are some advanced areas where the work has been excelent, for example in the area of Medicine with the European Medicines Agency. But in the most basic things it seems that the EU as a whole has unforgivably failed.

  19. avatar
    George Vakos

    Commenting most of the above comments, GROWTH is the way out of the crisis and the only way for the South to pay its debt. Since, according to classic economics, excessive and prolonged to many years austerity causes recession rather than growth, strongly refers to the conclusion that the motives of the north are other than solidarity to the South. Rich EU member states intent thru excessive and prolonged austerity to better control and manipulate the South in their banking system, natural resources, fiscal and even foreign politics. On the other hand in the same time, the southern administration must proseed without delay to structural reforms of their public sector.

  20. avatar
    Bastian

    There should be no solidarity with crooks. As a collection of corrupt and failed states the EU has no future. What we hear about fraud and corruption in government and business of some of EU member states is unbelievable.

    Unfortunately, this kind of culture is increasingly penetrating EU institutions. A recent example is the European Parliament where out of 750 MEP only about 100 found it necessary to attend the speech of a visiting PM from one of the net paying member states. Tax funded officials who obviously lack any feeling for mannes and public duty. It is the same group of people who constantly demand increases of EU budgets. Unbelieveable this arrogance.

    What is the difference here between a MEP and those Greeks who continue to receive pensions although the legal benificery is long dead? In both cases we have consumption of benefits without efforts.

    Unfortunately, EU regulation and policies are promoting such irresponsible conducts. The €uro introduction could be a case study for my claim.

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      Bastian, I fully agree with you.

      I’m Portuguese, and the feeling is mutual. However, don’t ever try to put everyone in the same bag. Here’s why: the leaders have the resposibility to guide their subordinates well. If a leader guides them wrong, failure is iminent. If me as a leader, told you as a subordinate, that you could spend all that you wanted, wouldn’t you do it? Everything is ok, go on ahead! Come on, don’t make the people more stupid than what they really are. MisInformation was part of the reason why things went wrong. Lack of guts to do what’s right too. And lots of guts to implement corruption as well!

      People don’t have ALL the fault. The most fault belongs to our politicians who promoted throughout the years all the corruption you were talking about, and they still do. Some of us are so burried deep down in that kind of twisted society that we can’t do much more than what we are doing right now, and believe me that it is costing far more to the people than to the leaders! We can’t get jobs for what we studied, when we do get a job, we are completely enslaved and underpayed…

      The only way to end this would be with… blood. But corruption blooms from every institution, like you said (and well spoken). How can we turn the tables then? It’s not easy for us. It’s either be corrupt too, or be miserable. The recipe for disaster!

      I also hate that the Greeks lived the way they did throughout the years, like an entire country as a tax haven. Enough is enough, right? Just don’t ask for the innocent to be slaughtered in order for growth to be a fact. Demand (as we do) for the corrupt to be “slaughtered”! But damn it! The corrupt are making the laws… O.O

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      Excuse me, where did the Greeks lived as a tax haven? Get your facts right…!! If the Greeks were overspending, it was because their government and the banks were encouraged them to do so.. As part of the euro-zone that is what we had to do.. The problem with Greece was not what you think you are… The Greeks are a hard working nation, but unfortunately they lack leadership. And their country is not a fully functioning democracy but an oligarchy… Few rich elites were tax evading and to do that the state kept the taxation policies of the country outdated. To accommodate tax evasion by these rich elites.. It would be very easy to reform the taxation system, we are all in the EU we could take a page or two out of each others books, right?

      But now it is the ordinary citizens that are called to pay for the mistakes of our leaders and their corruption.. Not everyone was tax evading in Greece and not everyone was corrupt… Our leadership was… The country was being governed on its own, it was not a fully functioning state. There are many reasons for that, that some are coming from inside the Greek state and Greece, some from outside, especially Europe and the EU….

      But to “hate the Greeks because they were living like in a tax haven” is simply stupid if I may say and ignorant… You simply do not know what you are saying. There are other tax havens in Europe, Luxembourg being one… If some people are living in a tax haven, these are the Luxembourgians not the Greeks….

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      Well, then I might have distorted what I heard on the news some months ago, or maybe it was the media the one to distort the facts.

      I know it’s always too risky to say that an entire country is “this” or “that”, stereotyping people might get you burned. I made that mistake. My apologies.

      I’ll rephrase it: “I also hate that the Greek corrupt politicians and corrupt citizens lived the way they did throughout the years, evading taxes.”

      I remember perfectly that I heard that it was found that people had properties and didn’t pay taxes because there were no records of to whom they actually belonged and so they couldn’t be charged… Perhaps it was more people on the sphere of power and not the regular citizen, and I got it wrong.

      Forgive my mistake as we too have those problems here at Portugal: corrupt politicians full of regalies and good stuff (credit cards, cars, travel expenses, lunches and dinners at luxurious restaurants…). And dirty play incentivating us to spend and to ask for loans when economic growth was not happening.

      Corruption is the key to destroy any country.

      As you will notice, the rest of my previous commentary goes in that direction.

      Please accept my formal apologie Mr. Mouzeviris. I don’t hate Greeks, nor Greece, nor any coutry.

      I’m just a corruption hater, like you, who picked the wrong words and distorted facts to express an idea.

      No hard feelings. Cheers from Portugal!

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      No hard feelings at all… Just do not believe everything that your media tells you… And if the people were able to do all the things there were able to do, it is the state that must be blamed that did not place the proper laws to prevent tax evading.. Other countries have done that and tax evading has been limited. Why the Greek state did not do that? Because it favored some people… That is why.. We need to deal with it and soon!!

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      The only way to tackle what you mention above is a political shake up throughout Europe, through the EU in my opinion. As you mentioned, the problem lies with our national governments. Their corruption leaks into the EU institutions.. Why not use the EU institutions to weaken and limit their powers, by becoming a lose federal union? In that way our national governments will be controlled by the representatives we put in power in the EP..

      Our problems are not the corrupt citizens.. They only take advantage the loopholes of the failed state systems. Our governments could work on closing those loopholes and limit corruption. They do not.. So they fail us. How to punish them? Place an overseer above their heads to force them to proceed with the necessary reforms.

      All states suffer from corruption, some more than others.. And some from different kinds of corruption… But it all starts on national level… We have to tackle corruption on national level first, then on European.

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      Exactly my point, I couldn’t have said it better!

      P.S.: *I apologize for the previous commentary, I issued a formal apology as a reply after your response.

  21. avatar
    James

    How can we have solidarity at an EU level when we can’t have solidarity within our own nations?

    Its good to cricitise the European Union and/or European Parliament, but one begs to ask – how much effort do we citizens put in to make not only the EU but also our own national politicians accountable? How many times have we gone to national elections and looked at what each party is offering and voted accordingly, rather than saying “I’m Labor, I’ll never vote Conservative” and vice versa?

    More importantly, as citizens, when are we ourselves going to take responsibility for our own actions on the political front before we criticise others?

    We can only move forward if we stop blaming everyone else for the mess we see ourselves in [either real or imaginary]. We are good at blaming the banks, the national government, the EU, but we are totally pathetic at laying part of the blame where it should be laid .. at our own selves.

  22. avatar
    catherine benning

    Reading through this thread has left me stunned by the obvious inability of most of us Europeans to grasp what has happened to our union.

    This guy above this post of mine is the only one who appears to have made a somewhat realistic analysis of this issue.

    First of all, Europeans being lazy or stupid with their money thereby causing this financiall downfall is political spin or propaganda. Are any of you listening to the briefs you get at all?

    The Euro was sabotaged to shore up the dollar. The banks, with government collusion, and their hedge fund operators, etc., created the financial downfall of us all. Not the Greeks or the French or any other nation. It was greed robbery with government sanction. Who do you see doing very well out of all this. Have you noticed the banks still give out huge and increased bonuses to their people and have no intention of paying back our stolen welfare pot?

    Governments are appearing less and less fit for purpose. And our identity is being sapped by the mass invasion of numerous other societies with needs and expectations that in no way connect with the European host. But that is hidden, never spoken of as the politicians have conspired with the concept because they are unable to see the forest for the trees. They are incompetant and inept, they cannot run a country as they are without the intelligence to see ahead, all they care about is their living standard paid for by us.

    David Cameron and his government cannot run the UK, which is blatantly obvious, as they are currently planning to import a private American force to take over control of our police. Run by a crazed old man who couldn’t clean up his own state of New York or of Los Angeles where he also conned them into his tactics of evil. This guy is looking t make an absolute fortune out of the UK tax payer by promoting private forces and private prisons with companies from the USA.

    The UK wants out of Europe because they want to be able to reduce the population to a work force that is dominated by poverty and greed, as it was before the onset of the welfare state. This deal was clearly struck with the Americans before the last election, as the Tories had it, surrepticiously but without clarity of the plan, in their last election manifesto. And because they doubt they will win the next election they are speeding up our assimilation into the US lifestyle. to make it very difficult for the next government to disentangle.

    The only reason the US wants the UK to remain in the EU is, as this guy above suggests, in order to covertly watch and influence Europe the way they want it to go along their lines.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265136/Invasion-foreign-supercops-Minister-wants-hire-U-S-crimebusters-British-police.html

  23. avatar
    Marc

    People still seem to fail to grasp that the Euro is an American banker project designed to enrich bankers at the expense of the poor and the middle class. You can bet that Goldman Sachs (of undemocrats like Monti, Draghi and Papademos) didn’t lose any money over what has happened, unlike ordinary people who’se savings are slowly destroyed so bankers can profit from artificially low rates.

    And for those crowing that ‘it takes a generation’, look what happened to the EU’s ideological predecessor the Soviet Union (‘ever closer union under the leadership of Moscow’) . Where is it now? Oh right, its gone. Because the people of the member states didn’t want it. The same will happen to the EU, let’s hope it won’t take 74 years for the EU monstrosity (1992-20??) to disappear.

    We need no political integration, and most certainly not fiscal integration or joint debt. And most certainly we need less and not more free trade.

    And George Vakos, there will be no real economic growth in the western world for the foreseeable future. The whole financial system is totally unsustainable. One cannot have perpetual growth on a finite planet with finite resources. And Europe’s wealth in the last half a millennium has always depended on looting the rest of the world blind. France’s latest warmongering in those artificial construct they call African ‘countries’ is proof of it, this is about resources with the convenient excuse of ‘terrorists’.

    Now everyone wants ‘our’ living standard (and who can blame them) which will lead to Europe’s decline and fall into the sunset. Europe produces nothing, has little to no natural resources and big fat bloated welfare states and hundreds of thousands of useless bureaucrats and politicians sitting about doing nothing having gotten their jobs through party connection.

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      That’s also true. Either make EU like the USA, or cut everybody loose from the monetary union.

      The way I see it, the only way for the EU to get out of this crisis is spilling more money out to every country from out of nowhere. What value will that money have? Zit. Nada! Then we would have a world divided in two blocks again, wouldn’t we? Maybe more?

      Of course the only ones getting well out of the crisis are the banks and dirty politicians. That’s Lavoisier’s principles: Nothing is created. Nothing is lost. Everything is transformed. Money didn’t dissapear, it’s out there somewhere.

  24. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    And here is an example of just how there is no solidarity, at 2022 on twitter:

    Štefan Füle @StefanFuleEU
    Made strong point in Dublin.For #Enlargement to maintain momentum domestic agenda should not take over the European one.

    vlora citaku @vloracitaku

    @StefanFuleEU domestic and EU agenda should be ONE!

    Oh dear!

  25. avatar
    Jamie Illingworth

    It can never develop – all countries of the EU don’t speak the same language for a start and our cultural, economic, social, political and legal systems are far too different – how can you debate the finer points of law in 20+ different languages…absolute madness

    • avatar
      Nuno AG Graça

      How exactly does one expect for a European directive to be applied everywhere in x years?

  26. avatar
    Marc

    Are you out of your mind, Mihail? The undemocratic Eurosoviet Union should have zero right to overrule elected national governments. They’re the ones who caused the big mess with insisting on ramming the wealth-destroying Euro through. They created the mess by setting up the system which they knew would fail, in fact they banked on it so they could use it as an excuse to get ‘more integration’.

    So just because in your country politicians are more corrupt should mean our country should give up on our democracy to please these Brussels apparatchiks and their Politburo (ie commission)?

    More integration wasn’t the solution for Moscow in 1988 and isn’t for Europe in 2013. ‘More integration’ is the problem, precisely because of the lack of a ‘European demos’ and therefore the absence of European democracy. No matter how many elections they run, it isn’t democratic simply for lack of demos. And as said before, the Soviet Union had the exact same legitimacy problem. People couldn’t wait to get out of it and almost every ex-Soviet country is better off for it, despite the warnings of doom that the pro-Soviet crowd used.

    But if anyone wants to make the case that Estonia, Moldova, Armenia or Tadjikistan were better off under Moscow’s rule feel free to do so, I would like to be amused.

    @Nikolai
    And who exactly is this Stefan Fule? Did we elect him? Or is he one of the kommissars on Barroso’s politburo? Did he pay income tax last year? And why exactly should he and his kind be allowed to overrule the elected Netherlands government? I see no reason for that at all, at least none that are democratic.

  27. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    @ Marc.

    I am quite sure your question relating to who Stefan Fule is was rhetorical as anybody interested enough to post here will know very well who he is and what his role within the EU is.

    If there were any questions over “who’s who” I would have thought far fewer people would have known who Vlora Citaku is.

    I am also quite certain that your statement about his election is also rhetorical – although I would point out that as I live in Ukraine, a non-EU nation, whether he was voted into office by public mandate or appointed makes no difference to Ukraine. He will be long retired before Ukraine gets anywhere near joining the EU – if it ever does at all.

    I have no idea if he paid income tax last year and if so how much or to whom. Certainly none of it entered bolstered the Ukrainian budget if he did.

    As far as I can see from the existing EU structures, Stefan Fule has no way of overruling any national government in his current position given his current role and remit. Anything EU enlargement, association agreement or free trade treaty he fronts appears to need signing and ratifying by the EU Commission, the European Parliament and European Council (the latter being made up of national MPs who can defer such signings and ratifications to debate in their respective national parliaments if they feel it necessary).

    Without them all signing and subsequently ratifying whatever deals Mr Fule tries to do as the “EU” appears unworkable.

    That may not necessarily be true of all – but in the case of Stefan Fule, who seems to have irked you, I can see no way that he can personally override the government of The Netherlands or any other.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Sadly, all you have written takes no account of democracy and the expectations of people who live within the system.

      Having a mandate to govern is the basis of a true democracy and so very basic that it is part of us throughout this union. No matter the views of the individual.

      Paying taxes, especially by those who opt out, is also fundamental to democratic principle as part of this union. It cannot run as a system without its expectation of revenue. You cannot plan or move on without the knowledge of acceptable receipts by those of us who rely on a certain level of infrastructure, law and benefits from our sacrifice.

      Which is one of the reasons the Ukraine has a long way to go before we can take notice of what its people want for their life.

    • avatar
      Marc

      What you seem to forget is that the European Politburo (ie commission) can make proposals that overrule national governments and parliaments. They they can have foreign members of this sham Parliament of theirs vote for it and we cannot stop it from being imposed on us. This neo-Soviet structure therefore has the ability to overrule democratic national governments and parliaments.

      And no, the EU isn’t in any way democratic. Demos is still a part of the definition of democracy and no such thing exists on the EU level. Just because the MEP’s were elected doesn’t make the EP democratic. The Soviet Union had the same legitimacy problem which ultimately they couldn’t solve no matter how hard Moscow pretended it was oh so legitimate.

      The thing is, the EU has no added value. All that happens is wealth transfers from poor to rich (ie permanent bailouts for bankers at the expense of people), a race to the bottom (‘ever cheaper labor’) and we’re being flooded with eastern Europeans who undercut locals and have cause increase in crime.

  28. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Jamie, you are somewhat right. That is why some people support the idea of transforming Esperanto in a common language and others propose the old classic Latin.

  29. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Whereas the old classic Latin would be so true election for Europe because mostly of languages of Europe lean to it and a whole would be the last and present and future for Europe.

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